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New Worried Snake Owner

Discussion in 'Ball Pythons' started by Maddlesrain, Nov 17, 2016.

  1. Maddlesrain

    Maddlesrain Member

    I took my first step into the world of snake keeping and purchased an albino ball python from petsmart last Friday. Since my purchase, I've found that many disagree with buying from these stores, but I got a fairly good impression when purchasing the snake. When I went to buy the snake initially, it was being held in the back (along with the other five or so pythons) for feeding and they refused to sell the little guy to me until the following morning to keep stress to a minimum after feeding. I didn't get a chance to see the snake eat, but I don't think they'd go through all the trouble to lie to me about feeding when all the employees seems very interested in this particular snake. I was given a feeding chart upon purchase the next day, which I will post a picture of, that seems to indicate that the snake has eaten frozen hopper mice since being in the store for the past four or so weeks.

    For the first few days, he did a bit of moving. I am a student in Fort Collins, but go to Boulder for the weekends, so I drove him down there for the weekend so I could keep an eye on him. For future weekends, I will simply leave the snake up in FOCO with everything running on timers and self-regulators. I wanted to observe him for the first few days, however. Over the weekend, he was handled for short amounts of time a few times, and then returned with me on Monday. After being set up, I attempted feeding a frozen hopper mouse Monday night. The python came out to investigate, however, no strikes were made. I left the mouse overnight, and still, no feeding attempts were made. I tossed the mouse in the morning and changed the paper towels in the tank. I heated the mouse using warm water, then gave it a 30 second or so blast with a hair-dryer before feeding.

    Beyond weighing the snake Tuesday afternoon, I have not handled it at all this week. He's about 18" long with a weight of about 323 grams. Does this seem about right?

    Although it had only been a few days, I visited a reptile shop and, after speaking to one of the employees, ended up buying a live rat pup in hopes that my new snake would take it. The snake refused, showing minimal interest. Should I be concerned?

    I feel that I being a new snake owner I panicked and jumped the gun, but I can't help but worry that something may be, or that I have done my new snake, wrong.

    The temperatures in the tank have been fluctuating as I figure all the equipment out/ how to position it, and the humidity has been quite low. Is this most likely the reasoning behind lack of feeding? And the fact that it has only been 7 days since purchase?

    The habitat set-up goes as follows.

    - 10 gallon aquarium w/ mesh top.
    - 2 heat lamps, one with a day bulb, the other with a red bulb for night. They alternate every 12 hours via timer.
    - thermostat is arriving today for heat pad
    - 2 medium sized hides.
    - water bowl on hot side
    - an acurite temp module which is located on the hot side. Reads 84F on hot side with heat pad currently off. I didn't want to risk a burn.
    - humidity is extremely low currently at 21% as Colorado is about as dry as it can get. I'm adding a vaporizer to the room today near the tank, and have done some mistings which brings the humidity up a bit each time.

    The snake was fairly active the first two days, then stayed in relatively the same spot in the cool side for two days and now is back to exploring at night and moved to the warm side.

    I'll include pictures of the tank and feed sheet later when I return, but for now, here's an image of the snake himself.

    Thank you in advance for any and all advice, critique, and overall outpouring of knowledge! I've been extremely stressed about getting everything right and feel that I might be overthinking everything as I adjust and perfect settings.

    Attached Files:

  2. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Unfortunately my experiences with snake husbandry are limited. I have had boas and kingsnakes. The one thing that always kept me from purchasing a ball python was, as you are experiencing; their stubbornness to eat.
    Hopefully someone can critique your setup.
  3. Maddlesrain

    Maddlesrain Member

    I'm hoping it's just that this guy is new and getting settled in!
    I called and talked to the people who feed the snakes at petsmart and looked over the sheet they gave me, and confirmed he'd eaten all four feedings he was with them, so that gives me some hope and optimism!
  4. Maddlesrain

    Maddlesrain Member

    I forgot to take an image of the feed sheet, but here's the tank set-up. Also, as mentioned above, I was told he ate (frozen fuzzies) four consecutive weeks. I added a thermostat for the heat pad, which arrived in the mail Thursday, and the vaporizer had made the humidity rise by about 17% since Thursday as well. The heating pad is set to hit about 91 F. I am on holiday for the week, and left him with a vet student whom has snakes of her own (not ball pythons though), so I feel he'll be in good hands for the week. She will attempt to feed at the end of the week. It was about a 20 minute car ride, so nothing too overstimulating I don't think. He's been exploring the tank a little, but still spends much of his time curled up (not in his hide) on the cool side. I assume this should be ok, as he'll sit wherever he likes..?

    Attached Files:

  5. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Something else to consider is the snake may be going into shed. most will not feed at this time.
  6. Maddlesrain

    Maddlesrain Member

    I thought perhaps that could be an option, but I can't tell if this is the case for sure (without the actual shed occurring) because I've never seen the process before.
  7. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    It's a little more difficult to tell with albino but the skin will get a hazy look to it. The lenses on the eyes will also get milky looking and lack the usual clear look. Both eyes and skin will clear back up and the shed will happen. The way you are describing the behaviors sounds very much like a shed coming on.
  8. Maddlesrain

    Maddlesrain Member

    I hope the shed is what will occur and then he'll resume eating! I didn't notice the eyes becoming cloudier before leaving, however, perhaps he hadn't progressed far enough into the shed. Thank you!
  9. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    With albino you need to look very closely. as you get more accustomed to the snake it will be easier to see
    Any chance that the store can tell you if the snake shed while there ?
    If not after 4 weeks I would expect a shed soon
  10. Maddlesrain

    Maddlesrain Member

    They didn't say, but when I return home I'll go in and ask them about the shed, so we'll know for sure.
    According to the girl caring for my snake over the break, she said he's been remaining on the cool side outside of his hide as he had been for the week previously. Is it true that it's normal for them to do that outside of digestion which requires high amounts of heat?
  11. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    This is the point of offering a thermal gradient. They know more about what they need than we do.
  12. Maddlesrain

    Maddlesrain Member

    I figured, just wanted to make sure considering snakes are cold blooded, I was under the impression he'd be under the warmth more.
  13. Megz

    Megz Member

    Hi there,

    I've been there and know exactly how you feel. My girl is 4 now and she has put me through this every year. I have a couple suggestions for housing and some thoughts on her not eating.

    Housing wise it sounds good. Having the hot side at 84 is perfect but I would recommend the internal temp of the hot side hide should be 86-90F. Doing so heats them up and prepares them for eating, when he is hungry he will spend time on that side (when they are fasting they will spend more time on the cold side). The cold side should be about 75F (dropping to 65-70 at night). Other than that your housing sounds good.

    In terms of not eating it is normal it may be one of three common reasons:

    1. He is prepping to shed
    - because they can't see as well they won't risk injury during feeding as well as their strike won't be as accurate
    - you will notice his collar fading and becoming more grey and the scales getting more prickly if that is the case

    2. It is the winter fast (very common)
    - my girl fasts every year for about 5 months. Just monitor his weight and make sure he doesn't lose a significant amount. Extend periods of time between offerings as well. So if you feed him Monday and he refuses wait two weeks, if he refuses again wait 3 weeks etc. Keep extending the offering period.
    - If he still doesn't eat and starts losing weight try getting another live rat (but thats only if he starts losing weight because you don't want him switching over to live only)

    3. He's just being fussy
    - in this case just do the above tactics again

    Either way I wouldn't be worried this happens all the time with BP's just watch him and monitor his weight. You will also notice him roaming around the cage and going up to the top of the tank a lot more if he is hungry.

    Hope this helps :)
  14. Maddlesrain

    Maddlesrain Member

    Thank you for your response!
    I did add a thermostat for the heat pad, which is on the hot side and reaches 91F. The cool side stays between 70-80, depending on the temperature of the room itself.
    Your snake doing something similar and being fine makes me feel a little better, and I'll be sure to try your feeding tactics/keep the possibilities for lack of feeding in mind!!
    Thank you very much!
  15. Megz

    Megz Member

    I glad I can help :) I'm sure he will be ok.

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